Pilgrim/No Offense, Nevermind, Sorry/Horton Records
Three out of Five Stars
The brainchild of Tulsa Oklahoma singer, songwriter and guitarist Beau Roberson, Pilgrim could be considered a supergroup of sorts, given that his colleagues include keyboardist John Fullbright and pedal steel player Jesse Aycock, musicians who have earned their own credence through their individual endeavors. With the additional support of drummer Paddy Ryan, bassist Aaron Boehler and guitarist Stephen Lee, Pilgrim achieves the status of a formidable ensemble, one with both the credence to achieve some significant standing in the highly competitive auspices of today’s Americana world. Its apologetic title aside, it’s a clear encapsulation of Roberson’s skill and savvy as a bandleader and an ideal mesh of the group’s combined creativity.
That said, the music is relatively modest, whether shared through the easy lope and agreeable attitude of the opening entry “Darkness of the Bar,” the world-weary vibe of “Out of Touch” or the upbeat approach found in “Down.” So too, while the assertive strains of “Pray for You,” the forthright delivery of “High on the Banks,” the emotive “Scar Across My Heart,” and the easy saunter of “Hallelujah Moment” opt for clear connection by evoking varied emotions, Roberson makes his most formidable statement with “Katie,” a Fred Eaglesmith cover that shares a sway and swagger, even as it belies the bitterness that results from a lover’s betrayal as described in the song. It’s the track that most effectively confirms Roberson’s powers of persuasion and the emotional empathy he’s able to reference as well.
Those occasional moments of clear connectivity aside, the album overall makes for a somewhat unassuming effort, as impressive as it seems. It’s also indicative of where Roberson may be heading if his label continues to have his back and his inspiration remains fully fueled. Like all good pilgrims, he’ll likely do his best if the quest he’s on remains both driven and determined.
Photo by Phil Clarkin